Do You Hear What I Hear?

August 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

By nature, I am a worrier.

But even I wasn’t prepared for the sporadic episodes of doubt, terror, and self-flagellation that have been the by-products of my loving the heck out of my kid.

As I’ve mentioned before, we have been blessed with one the most delightful little people going. Obviously I am completely biased, but honestly, Nemo is a joy. Cheerful, engaging, easygoing, and cute to boot. He rarely gives me any reason to worry; he’s clearly such a happy little guy, and easily the mellowest kid on the block.

His super laid-back attitude has been there since day one – no joke. When he was born, he didn’t cry – I got concerned and asked if he was ok. The nurse assured us he was fine. Apparently, he just didn’t find the traditional shrieking grand entrance necessary. Instead, he just looked around with wide eyes like “huh, this is different…” then went to sleep in my arms. He has always been rather laissez-faire in regards to all the big “milestones” laid out in my many baby books: rolling over, sitting, crawling… He took his sweet time with each of those, and we as parents (eventually) adjusted to his own trademark style of developing. We’ve learned to take the itemized developmental charts with a grain of salt, and to recognize that these are guidelines, and by no mean a pass/fail litmus test of our parenting prowess. This is not to say that that we are ambivalent or disinterested in regards to Nemo’s development, quite the contrary. We’ve become hyper-aware. As much as we trust that Nemo’s temperament is playing a big role in the timing of his milestones, we still worry, and make a point of doing everything we can to ensure that he’s on track.

During Nemo’s 15 month check-up, we were offered a referral to a Speech-Language Pathologist. Nemo’s always been quite the little chatterbox, but still hadn’t started dropping any major words on us like Mama, Dada, Yes or No, at least not consistently. I had my little moment of “omigod-I’m-a-terrible-parent” and then got over it. Absolutely we would take the referral – why not? We were put on the wait-list and carried on with our lives. Over the next three months (he’s 18 months old now), he started copying more sounds, kept babbling like a champ, and fired off the occasional “NO!” Still no words per se, but I was assured by friends and family that he was “perfectly normal!” at every turn. Even still, when the day came for us to meet the “Beth” (the Speech Pathologist), I was worried sick. As usual, Nemo laid on the charm and thoroughly enjoyed himself. I, on the other hand, was completely traumatized by the experience.

Watching and waiting to see if your kid is deemed “normal” can be a terrible thing. Completely oblivious to the fact that he was being tested, Nemo played, smiled, giggled… and barely responded any of Beth’s tests. We then moved on to Beth “coaching” me on how to model words and to interact with Nemo. Not only did I feel super uncomfortable, Nemo kept cocking me a “Mum, wtf?” look. He happily chattered away but wanted no part in repeating the words I was oh-so-carefully pronouncing.

D’oh. Seriously, I was torn between thinking I must be a terrible parent because he wasn’t responding, and thinking I must be an amazing parent because he was outsmarting both me and the Speech Pathologist. I half-expected him to shoot me a quick wink or raise an eyebrow.

Anyway, while I was expecting Nemo to pull a Groucho Marx and whip out a cigar, Beth asked about the fluid in the his ears.

– Um, what fluid in his ears?

– Oh, the fluid in both his ears mentioned by your Doctor in the referral forms.

Um, what?

As it so happens, our Doctor at the time of Nemo’s 15 month check-up (no longer our Doctor as she abruptly left the medical practice where we were seeing her) noticed fluid in both of his ears and made a note of it. Fluid in the ears can result in the delay of communication skills, like listening and speaking. Did she tell us? No, she sure didn’t.

(Shout out to Beth on keeping me from running out the door and attacking said Doctor.)

I made an appointment for Nemo to see our new Doctor the next day. Yep, the build-up of fluid in his middle-ear was still there. In both ears.

So where do we go from here? Well, we’re having his hearing tested next week at a private clinic, and then we’re being referred to a pediatrician and an ENT. We’re not too sure what the tests will show, as Nemo’s made it clear that he can HEAR, it’s just a matter of the quality of his hearing. In the meantime, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.

And keep loving the heck out of our Kid.

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